Why childhood birthdays are the best

My third baby turned one yesterday. “MY BIRTHDAY IS NEXT!” shouted Master Five as soon as we’d finished singing the happy birthday song to his baby sister. “SOON IT WILL BE MY BIRTHDAY!” he crowed as she tentatively dipped a finger into the frosting on her cupcake. “I’M GOING TO BE SIX SOON!” he announced as we snapped photos of the birthday girl. “I’M HAVING AN AVENGERS CAKE!” he yelled. The baby started to cry. She doesn’t yet understand the excitement of childhood birthdays, and she mostly just wanted her pacifier and a good night’s sleep.

Childhood birthdays are undoubtedly the best. I remember my childhood birthday parties vividly. One year, when Barbie and the Rockers were a thing, my mother put on the most awesome themed party where I and my Barbie-mad party guests made glitter headbands out of tulle and glued-on sequins. She was a birthday-cake master, my mother – she taught cake decorating classes – and our birthday cakes were incredible. Presents were always frivolous playthings, coveted books, and special items of clothing like that candy-pink denim jacket I remember so well and wish I still had.

My kids’ birthdays are awesome, too. Every year they get either a party (if it’s a milestone) or an opportunity to invite a friend or two for a special outing, like the movies or mini golf. Their cakes are pastel concoctions featuring lollies and edible figurines. They can choose their birthday meal, even if it’s just cake and ice cream and absolutely no vegetables whatsoever. And they get presents which are frivolous playthings, coveted books, and special items of clothing. No wonder Master Five was so excited to think that his birthday is coming up (although it’s not for another two months). Childhood birthdays are a big highlight.

Adult birthdays, however, leave something to be desired. While I have had some pretty memorable grown-up birthdays, none have ever lived up to the childhood birthdays of yore. Next year I’ve got a milestone birthday coming up, and I’m already pretty certain that it’ll be reasonably low-key.

“What do you think you’ll want for your birthday next year?” my husband asked as I scrubbed frosting off of Master Five’s face.

“A night in a hotel,” I replied promptly. “Alone. Where I can just watch whatever I want on TV with no one interrupting me, and go to bed when I feel like it, and wake up whenever I want to. Where I won’t have to give anyone a bath, or wipe any bottoms, or do any laundry.”

“But Mum, that’s so booooooooring,” interrupted Master Five. “That sounds like the most boring birthday ever! Also we won’t be there!”

That’s true. I suppose the best part of birthdays, childhood or otherwise, is the excitement of children – because they truly appreciate just how special birthdays really are.

Katherine Granich

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